Esports are a surging billion-dollar industry, and with an audience size approaching 500 million worldwide, have begun receiving recognition comparable to that of soccer or basketball.
All qualified tournament participants will receive $1,000 annual scholarships ($4,000 over four years) to be used at Paul Smith’s College, while the winners will be awarded $7,000 scholarships totaling $28,000 over the course of a four-year degree. Open to those aged 16 to 18 competing in teams of two, the tournament will feature the games Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Fortnite.
Following its formation, Paul Smith’s esports club quickly ballooned to 70 students, 30 of whom are registered with the varsity A and B teams competing with other colleges in games including Overwatch, League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Rocket League, Fortnite, FIFA 2019 and Madden 2019.
The college is a registered member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), which saw its esports membership more than double in size this fall to 57 colleges fielding teams. Gaming competition will appear as a sanctioned event in the lead-up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and demonstration event in the 2024 games.
“The esports program at PSC has come a very long way in a very short amount of time,” head coach Matt Bailey said in an announcement of the tournament. Bailey cited esports’ inclusion in the 2019 Empire State Winter Games and a recent gift made to the college to fund an esports lab.
In October, Stewart’s Shops/Dake Family donated $100,000 to Paul Smith’s for the creation of a practice and competition space with modern gaming equipment. The lab will be the location for this and future tournaments.